Heaven’s gonna burn your eyes

Went to see Thievery Corporation at Stubb’s last night. Thanks to Gwen’s friend Mellie, we were able to get free tickets in return for a favor Gwen had done testing Mellie’s new project.

I’ve been a fan of Thievery Corp for some time, and had recommended that we use our freebies to get into this show, but still, it was with some trepidation: the band is one of that crop of studio-oriented duos (other examples: Zero7, Chemical Brothers). I was a bit concerned we’d be treated to two guys standing behind keyboard racks for the whole show. And in fact, that was exactly how it opened (to “Treasures” from Mirror Conspiracy, if I recall correctly). After that, other musicians and singers filed in. The bass was mixed a little too loud.

The show wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. Why was it less than great? A few reasons:

  1. Very little spontaneity and improvisation in their performance. A few numbers had some, but most of them were very much like listening to album cuts really loud. While the other musicians kept the show from looking like two guys frobnicating their keyboards, I had the distinct impression the show could have been done without them, and at one point, the vocalist was clearly not singing at some moments we were hearing his voice–it was being played from a sample–though he held the mic up to his mouth to maintain the illusion.
  2. A little too much reggae for my taste. The first half of the show was their more exotic/neo-loungy/dreamy stuff. For the second half, they brought out a couple of reggae singers, who had a more energetic stage presence, despite the fact that the music was still basically downtempo. The contrast didn’t exactly work.
  3. Short show. They started pretty much at the announced 8:30 start time, and ended at 10:30 (though the end time has to do with noise ordinances).

In short, I don’t regret going, but I won’t feel like I’m missing out if I don’t go to their next show. I’m glad I didn’t pay $23 (or whatever) to get in.

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